Intra/Inter - was Inet-II

Date: Fri, 11 Oct 1996 22:36:26 -0700
From: Vadim Antonov <>
I'm sorry that this is getting more and more off-topic...

Yes, so I'll keep my reply short. And hope that the flaming
anti-government yahoos stop filling my mailbox....

>Delivery of all social services has clearly been shown to be cheaper
>when done by government, when costs of fund collection, advertisement,
>and administration are included. Private charity is always more
>expensive, even when partly done with volunteer labor. The best numbers
>I have at hand are 3% government (US Food Stamps) versus 17% private
>(United Way) for administrative costs to delivered services. And when
>advertising and fund collection are added, many non-profit "charities"
>spend upwards of 50% on overhead!

Huh? Sure you forgot to figure in the cost of collection of taxes
and counted only disbursement (and did you count enforcement and
what groceries spend on processing food stamps?)

I explicitly (in my quoted comment) did _NOT_ forget the cost of fund
raising, enforcement, or any other administrative cost. And neither did
the United Way study, nor the several others that I remember reading....
This is _very_ well established, folks.

The US IRS is a model of efficiency for fund raising, with far less
distributed overhead than others, and a budget of 1/10,000 (off the top
of my head) of collected revenue. Compare with sales or property tax,
with their thousands of separate administrations, and own elected
officials, etc.

I have read that groceries actually _like_ to get food stamps. They put
big signs on their windows "food stamps accepted here". They are much
easier and cheaper to administer than manufacturers' coupons. (As an
aside, related to my later recycling note, groceries _hate_ recycling,
which would _not_ happen without government enforcement.)

Most of what charities spend is cost of fundraising.

That's correct, for many!

When you figure _that_ in, you'll get government efficiency well
below that of any private organization.

This comment makes no sense, as it is pretty obvious that government
does not spend most of its budget on fund raising, and therefore your
conclusion is at variance with your own assertions.

You have obviously not looked at the numbers, nor been on the boards of
any private non-profits, as I have.

And, of course, it is always much simplier to get funds for
"charity" by telling people they'd better pay or go to jail.

If it is much simpler, then it is likely cheaper, too. There is no way
that private organizations can compete on an efficiency basis.

What you compare is charity and legalized racket.

In fact, the social cost of welfare is enormous. It created
generations of people which cannot and don't want to earn living.
A culture of entitlement, if you like. No charity ever made
recipients "entitled" to anything.

This is a descent into diatribe, and demonstrably untrue.... Your
biases are showing, and no rational discourse is likely. Sounds to me
like you've been listening to political advertisements for your economics.

Folks, I just gave a few of the well-documented examples of when it is
more efficient for the people to form a collective organization (called
government) than to privatize. Please keep your facts straight.

>We already had commercial telecommunications companies; they gave us
>X.25 ... and now, ATM.

X.25 was fine for its time. It still processes all credit card and
ATM transactions. ATM (another one) is going to be dead pretty soon,
as new generation of IP routers will roll out.

The reason we chose X.25 for ATM transactions here in Michigan (X.25 was
the 3rd protocol stack I ever wrote, circa '78-79) was because it was
the only thing available! The alternative was direct leased lines, and
we did a fair amount of that, too.

But, it was _never_ "fine". I preferred IBM bisync and Burroughs
poll-select, and even Honeywell VIP, and invented a few of my own.

And, ah, yes. ATM figured prominently in NAP-related papers, ok?
vBNS is ATM-based. _Who_ is promoting that insanity?

ATM figured prominently in _PRIVATE_ company responses to the NAP bid.
ATM was proposed by a _PRIVATE_ company for the vBNS.

I do not recall ATM being mentioned in the NSF RFP, and the private
ATM-based NAPs had a _lot_ of problems coming up!

Our Internet is a fine example of what government and academics _can_
do. And Internet II may very well be a boon to the world, if it can
provide impetus for development of new technologies.

If it just becomes another AUP vehicle, then that would be a loss. It
is our job to make sure that it does not!
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